Keep poison out of your Internet names
July 29, 2008
It started out as a bizarre error: I couldn't get Google to appear in my browsers this morning. First there were strange messages about "too long SSL strings" broadcast to the server, and finally the mess devolved into every attempt to hit Google landing me at Hostmonster.com.
This kind of attack could happen to the HP server community without some vendor engineering. The assault is called DNS poisoning, a way to hijack the DNS name resolution services of your system or your Internet Service Provider. Hostmonster.com, after all, couldn't tell me much about the state of DNS poisoning. It's amazing how much we rely on the Google site for searches now.
Even the 3000 NewsWire's search features, for our archive Web site and current news blog, use a Google engine. Not an issue for our readers, most of whom use Windows, which has a patch available. Fixing this became a priority mission for me and my servers. It should be for you too, and HP has concocted a patch to help protect you.
The patch is fresh — just about 10 days old, because nearly all of the major operating system makers worked together to create a barrier for this kind of exploit. Notably absent: Apple, which apparently has been too busy creating a twice-as-fast cell phone/PDA to participate in the patch alliance. Soon, we Mac users hope.
Enough of the drama. HP says that it's vital you install patch HSBUX02351, software which affects just about every version of HP-UX in enterprise installations today. That's 11.21, 11.23, and 11.31.
As for the MPE/iX counterparts to these repairs, HP hasn't released any statement we can find, let along any software. DNS represented a watershed for the 3000 when Mark Bixby created the BIND software which performs the addess-finding magic. Bixby is gone away from HP, but Jeff Bandle is a networking guru still working with 3000 community members this year.
We're going to keep up on the situation with Bandle and Bixby, hoping that the HP lab team — still working until the end of the year — can keep Google from turning into a mess of error messages, or some other popular and vital Web site from being routed into the hands of unwitting pirate slaves.